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LULAC Council #12113

PO Box 300146
Jamaica Plain MA 02130
March 17/2015
Chief of Health and Human Services
Chief Felix Arroyo
Boston City Hall
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201
Dear Chief Arroyo,
We are writing to request a meeting with you to discuss our concerns
about recent accidents in high containment BSL laboratories and to
present some proposals that we believe will minimize risks to the
citizens of Boston.
The Mission of the League of United Latin American Citizens is to
advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political
influence, housing, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of
the United States. Annually, LULAC engages its network of 135,000
community volunteers, 1,000 local councils, 60 community technology
centers and 14 LULAC National Educational Service Centers to
empower Hispanic families through direct service programs and
advocacy in 35 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The League of United Latin American Citizens recognizes and promotes the need for
healthy and safe communities and for environmental justice. Members of the Roxbury
Safety Net and residents throughout the City of Boston have expressed opposition to
locating a Biosafety Level 4 (BSL4) bioterrorism research laboratory in the South
End/Roxbury near Boston Medical Center that would perform research with select agents
that can be used in biological warfare. LULAC endorsed the position statement of Safety
Net in opposition to Boston Universitys Bioterrorism Lab and urged the Boston City
Council and the Mayor to pass an ordinance prohibiting research in BSL4 laboratories
within the City of Boston.

The LULAC Resolution was adopted by Massachusetts State Convention May 2006 as
well as at the National Convention the same year for the following reasons.
The proposed bioterrorism research laboratory would be the first BSL4 laboratory in a
densely populated urban neighborhood in the United States; and the health and safety
risks from the laboratory are serious because there can be no guarantee that agents that
cause incurable diseases may not accidentally or intentionally be released from the
laboratory; and, the laboratory might be a target for terrorism; and
there is no guarantee that the lab will operate in an open and transparent manner and that
there will be sufficient public oversight and review of laboratory research with bio
warfare agents; and the laboratory is incompatible with the nearby residential
neighborhood, medical campus, and hospital that is the primary provider of free care in
We want to thank you again for continuing your father's legacy and for
representing LULACs membership (local and national) in opposing BU's
laboratories by voting to ban BU's National Emerging Infectious
Diseases Laboratories & Biodefense for the six years you served as a
Boston City Councilor. Now, you have been blessed with an appointed
position of leadership, which is critically important to the creation of
serious research safety protections, regulations and safety compliance
In the past year, the Director of the Centers for Disease Prevention and
Control has publicly admitted to numerous and on-going violations of
routine safety protocols that endanger the lives of laboratory workers.
In addition, recent laboratory inspections have reported the
disappearance of vials containing incurable pathogens.
On 8/21/14, a letter was sent to Mayor Walsh from the Lawyers'
Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice containing a multitude
of signatures of those who share concerns and "the lack of trust in BU
to implement and maintain a culture of safety". The letter also refers to
one of the most disturbing incidents that occurred early in 2014. A
scientist engaged in "Gain of Function" research by increasing the
virulence of a "bird Flu" pathogen, which increased the likelihood of
that pathogen being transmissible to humans.
Recently, in the CDC's Atlanta based biosafety level 4 lab, a lab worker
accidentally confused some specimens from an Ebola experiment and
sent an un-killed (live) sample to a lower-level lab where workers
handling the specimens had minimal protections. A technician there
had to be quarantined for 21 days. Other serious errors have involved
mishandling of anthrax bacteria and the discovery of forgotten vials of
deadly smallpox in a cold-storage room at the National Institutes of
Health (NIH).

Additionally, we wish to call your attention to the fact that eighteen

NIH- funded laboratories are researching deadly viruses, such as, the
so-called Asian bird flu. While Thomas Frieden, the CDC Director, sees
all these mishaps as "learning opportunities to help scientists improve
their "culture of safety", a large group of scientists, including some
from the Harvard School of Public Health, are joining together to
prevent this so-called "Gain of Function" research on potential
pandemic pathogens (PPPs). We are also concerned that the Boston
Public Health Commission ban on "rDNA" research will be eliminated or
ignored. Both the "Gain of Function" research on potential pandemic
pathogens (PPPs) and our proposed "rDNA" regulations are included in
your packet for review.
If our world-renown CDC, with over 50 years of practice and
experience, is being unsuccessfully challenged with difficulties in
monitoring its own facilities, then Boston University with much less
experience is not likely to fare better within its 18 core labs.
In fact, safety lapses continue to occur in academic and government
laboratories across the country. An average at least four per week
involving regulated pathogens. The risk to public health from such
laboratory accidents has increased because scientists are now creating
highly transmissible, novel strains of dangerous viruses. An accidental
infection in such a setting could trigger an outbreak that would be
difficult to control in a densely populated city.
After considering all the numerous problems and violations at the
Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, LULAC is taking the lead to
request that you call for a public health and safety moratorium on the
CDC's permitting processes and procedures for the National Emerging
Infectious Diseases Laboratories & Bio-Defense until the Congressional
hearings concerning their numerous safety and protocol violations
have been completed and findings published.
Boston University's National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories
& Bio-Defense 18 core laboratories will need an extraordinarily arduous
and labor intensive oversight strategy which should include, but not be
limited to, frequently unannounced inspections. We, along with your
help, must continue to ensure that all levels of HHS are taking
extraordinary steps to protect the taxpaying residents, students and
tourist of Boston, as well as, all of Massachusetts. Implementing new
safety regulations and updating existing ones can do just that. Once
again, we ask that you call for a public health and safety moratorium
on the NEIDL permitting process. We look forward to meeting with you
in the near future.

Sara Barrientos, Council 12113 President, Deputy State Director for

Regla Gonzalez, Massachusetts Deputy State Director, Immediate Past
Vice President for Women
Toula Politis Lugo, Past National Vice President for the Northeast
Esther Degraves Aguinaga, Past National Vice President for the
Roxanne Ribbot, Gonzalez, State Deputy for Young Adults
Annabelle Guerra Cisternelli, State Deputy for Youth
Rocio Jorge, Council 12112 President
Ivan Aguinaga, Council 12104 President
Ana Valdes, Council 12103 President
Nelly Manche Kleinerman, Treasurer Council 12113